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AFL-CIO Southern Area Civil Rights Department records

 Collection
Identifier: L1989-17

Scope and Content of the Records

The records of the AFL-CIO Southern Area Civil Rights Department, spanning 1964 to 1988, include correspondence, minutes, reports, writings, financial records, printed materials, clippings, membership cards, photographs, and artifacts that document the activities of the office's director, E.T. "Al" Kehrer, in facilitating the employment of minorities and women in the region. The records show that some of Kehrer's work related directly to job training, affirmative action, and equal opportunity complaints. Other materials document that many of his activities contributed to increasing cooperation among civil rights groups, unions, and government agencies. Kehrer also participated in a wide range of community, labor, and political organizations.

In addition to the manuscript materials contained in Series 1-8, a large amount of printed material is included in the collection. Six cubic feet of printed matter was reviewed and retained with the collection (listed in the addendum).

Dates

  • 1962-1988

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

History of the AFL-CIO Department of Civil Rights, Southern Region

Shortly after the merger in 1955, the AFL-CIO set up a Department of Civil Rights under the direction of Boris Shishkin. From 1965 to 1969 Don Slaiman headed the department followed by William E. Pollard in 1970. The AFL-CIO also had a standing committee on civil rights. This committee was headed successively by Charles S. Zimmerman (1957-1961), William Schnitzler (1961-1967), and Fred O'Neal (1969-[1985]). The committee membership included representatives from AFL-CIO unions. Don Slaiman, E.T. Kehrer, William E. Pollard, Robert McGlotten, and Doris Gibson Hardesty provided staff services to the committee.

During the early years of the AFL-CIO, the Civil Rights Department and the Civil Rights Committee did relatively little toward eliminating practices of exclusion in union policies. The national organization's position changed after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. On January 1, 1965, the Southern Area Civil Rights Department was established in response to a need for a staff specialist in civil rights in the region. Later that year the southern office opened in Atlanta under the direction of E.T. "Al" Kehrer. The states served by this office included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Elmer T. Kehrer was born on a farm near Brighton, Michigan, in 1921. He grew up in Detroit during an active period of union organization in the auto industry. During World War II he served in the Maritime Service as a Purser-Pharmacist on an oil tanker in the Pacific war zone. In 1947 he received his A.B. degree from Olivet College in Michigan and his M.A. in economics from Yale University in 1948. He started with the unions in 1936 when he became a student organizer for the United Auto Workers. In 1944 he did field work in Los Angeles for the Ship's Clerk Association, and in 1948 he became a field representative for the Workers Education Bureau of the AFL specializing in setting up human relations programs. In 1950 he was instrumental in founding and serving as director of the ILGWU's Officers Training Institute, the first year-round labor educational program to develop full-time union officials. In 1953 Kehrer accepted the position of ILGWU's Southeastern Regional Director in Atlanta. He remained in that position until he became the Southern Director for the AFL-CIO's Civil Rights Department in 1965.

Kehrer's work in the Civil Rights Department focused mainly on facilitating the addition of minority and women workers to work forces represented by unions. In addition to advocating the employment of minorities, this effort also involved encouraging unions, government agencies, and employers to provide job training and to develop and follow affirmative action guidelines. He paid particular attention to increasing black participation in the building trades. Evidence of this type of activity can be found in Kehrer's work with major federal construction projects such as the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Kings Bay Submarine Base.

Kehrer's responsibilities also called for forging coalitions among agencies, civil rights groups and labor organizations. He worked with the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC), the Southern Regional Council and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Non-Violent Social Change. Among other things, he assisted in the development and processing of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints. Kehrer served as the Labor Coordinator for the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and in 1985 repeated that role for the 20th anniversary march. In 1966 Kehrer helped to form and served as an officer of the Georgia Democratic Party Forum and the Ellis Arnall Write-In Campaign, efforts aimed at electing a slate of loyalist national Democrats as delegates to the 1968 Democratic National Convention and electing former Governor Ellis Arnall as governor of Georgia. In 1970 Kehrer served as the chairman of the first planning committee for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration.

In addition to very heavy official duties, Kehrer was also active in his community, in politics, and in the Presbyterian Church. He served in leadership capacities in the following organizations: Southern Regional Council, Workers Defense League, National Joint Council on Economic Education, Georgia Manpower Area Planning Council, Tennessee-Tombigbee Affirmative Action Coordinating Committee, Southern Coalition for Full Employment, Atlanta Area Justice for J.P. Stevens Workers, Georgia Citizens for the Arts, Organized Labor-Workmen's Circle Labor Awards Committee, Georgia Women's Diversion Committee, East Coast Farmworkers Support Network, Resurgens Atlanta, and the Georgia Democratic Party. He also worked with other organizations including: Presbyterian Consultation on World Hunger and Development, Presbyterian Task Force on U.S. System of Justice, Industrial Relations Research Association, Workmen's Circle, Coalition for a Democratic Majority, League for Industrial Democracy, NAACP, Atlanta Urban League, Georgia Coalition on Hunger, Southeastern Advisory Council on the American Red Cross, and the Georgia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Extent

52 Linear Feet (in 106 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The records of the AFL-CIO Southern Area Civil Rights Department, spanning 1962 to 1988, include correspondence, minutes, reports, writings, financial records, printed materials, clippings, membership cards, photographs, and artifacts that document the activities of the office's director, E.T. "Al" Kehrer, in facilitating the employment of minorities and women in the region.

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in This Repository

  1. E. T. Kehrer Papers, 1940-1989 (L1989-22)
  2. AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department, Southern Region records, 1963-1972 (L1973-05)
  3. AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department, Southern Office records, 1964-1979 (L1983-26)
  4. AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department, Southeastern Office records, 1974-1984 (L1985-16)
  5. AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department, Southeastern Region records, 1966-1986 (L1988-22)

Separated Materials note

During processing, a few union constitutions, and many union contracts were added to the Contracts and Constitutions Collections in the archives. Included were quite a number of contracts for the Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and associated locals. Approximately two cubic feet of printed documents were added to the Pamphlet Collection, and a large number of labor periodicals were placed in the Periodicals Collections. A few artifacts and eight audio tapes are available. One hundred fifty-one photographs belong to the collection including a number documenting the Labor Awards Bankquet. Other events covered include the twentieth anniversary Selma-Montgomery March, the 1969 Atlanta Daily World strike, and the Tenn-Tom Job Train.

See List of Separated Material following Detailed Description of the Collection.

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Artifacts Collection

  1. Button, Mondale
  2. Button, J.P. Stevens Boycott
  3. Button, McGovern
  4. Bumper stickers, local politics
  5. Bumper stickers, National politics
  6. Bumper stickers, Union activities
  7. Decals, United Steelworkers
  8. AFL-CIO license plate
  9. "The E.L. Abercrombie Lamp of Learning Award," to E.T. Kehrer, 1987

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Constitutions Collection

  1. American Federation of Grain Millers, Local 361, 1979
  2. Building Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, Atlanta Federal Employees Union, Local 534, 1965
  3. International Woodworkers of America, 1984

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Contracts Collection

  1. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Locals 822, 84, 923, 780, 896, 847, 511; with Georgia Power Company, 1963
  2. United Faculty of Florida; with Board of Regents, State University System of Florida, 1978-1981
  3. International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 42; with City of Kansas City, Missouri, 1984-1986
  4. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (Bonnaz and Hand Embroiderers, Tuckers' Stitchers' and Pleaters' Union, Local 66); with ALA Embroidery Company, 1955
  5. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Upper South Department; with Kenrose Manufacturing Company, Roanoke, Buchanan, and Radford, Virginia, 1959-1962; 1960 (Memoradum of Strike Settlement Agreement)
  6. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union; with Associated Corset and Brassiere Manufacturers, Inc., outside the City of New York, 1960
  7. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (Children's Dress, House Dress and Bathrobe Makers' Union, Local 91, and Amalgamated Ladies' Garment Cutters Union, Local 10); with Industrial Association of Juvenile Apparel Manufacturers, Inc., of Greater New York Area, 1960-1963; 1964-1966
  8. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and the Philadelphia Dress Joint Board; with Cotton Dress Section of Fashion Apparel Manufacturers' Association, 1960-1963; 1963-1966
  9. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Locals 178 and 361; with Needle Trades Employers Association, Fall River, Massachusetts, 1961
  10. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Ohio-Kentucky Region; with Bardstown Manufacturers, Bardstown, Kentucky, 1961
  11. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and Dressmakers' Joint Council; with the Popular Priced Dress Manufacturers' Group, Inc., 1961-1964
  12. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (Waterproof Garment Workers Union, Local 20, and Amalgamated Ladies' Garment Cutters Union, Local 10); with Association of Rain Apparel Contractors, Inc., 1962-1965
  13. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (Blouse and Waist Makers Union, Local 25, and Amalgamated Ladies Garment Cutters Union, Local 10); with National Association of Blouse Manufacturers, 1962-1964
  14. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union; with Jonathan Logan, Barnesville, Ohio, 1962
  15. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Locals 162 and 85; with Arthur Immerman Undergarment Corporation and Matswan Undergarment Company, Inc., 1963
  16. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (Undergarment and Negligee Workers' Union, Local 62, and Amalgamated Ladies' Garment Cutters' Union, Local 10); with Allied Underwear Association, Inc., 1963-1966
  17. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Local 415; with Florida Apparel Manufacturers' Association, 1963-1966
  18. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Local 584 and the Ohio-Kentucky Region; with Mercer Dress, Brugin, Kentucky, 1963
  19. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union; with Jonathan Logan, Inc., Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1969
  20. Glass Bottle Blowers Association of the United States and Canada, AFL-CIO; with Owens-Illinois, Inc., Miami Beach, Florida, 1980-1983
  21. The Newspaper Guild, Local 35 (Washington-Baltimore); with AFL-CIO, 1974-1976
  22. Brotherhood of Railway, Airline, and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employes; with Fine Transportation, Inc., 1970
  23. Brotherhood of Railway, Airline, and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees; with Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company, 1968
  24. Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America, AFL-CIO, District Council 38; with the Atlanta Chapter Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, Drywall Finishers, Atlanta, Georgia, 1966-1969
  25. Salary Policy Employee Panel (Service Employees' International Union, TVA Public Safety Service Employees' DALU 3033, Office and Professional Employees International Union, TVA Association of Professional Chemists and Chemical Engineers, TVA Engineering Association); with Tennessee Valley Authority, 1971; 1977
  26. Building Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, Local 534, Atlanta Federal Service Employees; with Atlanta Army Depot, undated
  27. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (Community and Social Agency Employees, Local 107); with R-T-P, Inc., New York, New York, 1976
  28. Tennessee Valley Trades and Labor Council; with Tennessee Valley Authority, (Hourly) 1971(Annual) 1971(Annual and Hourly) 1976(Construction) 1976
  29. Amalgamated Transit Union, Division 732; with Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), 1984-1987
  30. Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, Local 525; with J.E.T., Inc., Dyneteria, Inc., and Welborn Support Services, Inc., for Maintenance and Service Employees at Kings Bay Submarine Base, St. Mary's, Georgia 1981-1983
  31. International Woodworkers of America, AFL-CIO, Local 5-440; with Johns-Manville Products Corporation

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection

  1. 1199 News, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, a division of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, February 1981 (Vol. 16, No. 2)
  2. The American Federationist, AFL-CIO, 1973-1984
  3. Ammunition, United Auto Workers Education Department, October 1968
  4. The Carpenter, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, September 1976
  5. The CLEAR Report, Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Alabama, Birmingham, 1974; 1980-1982
  6. The Crisis, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1981-1985
  7. F and B Topics, Food and Beverage Trades Department, AFL-CIO
  8. Labor Desk News, U.S. Youth Council Labor Desk, Fall 1982
  9. Local 75 News, National Association of Post Office Mail Handlers, Laborers' International Union of North America, circa November 1970
  10. Memo from COPE, Committee on Political Education, AFL-CIO, September 2, 1968
  11. Reach, United Faculty of Florida, Spring 1980
  12. SCLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1984-1985
  13. Social Justice, Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, 1978-1979
  14. Solidarity, United Auto Workers International Union, March/April 1987
  15. Southern Changes, Southern Regional Council, Inc., 1978-1985
  16. Southern Exposure, Institute for Southern Studies, 1976; 1985
  17. Textile Labor, Textile Workers Union of America, October-November 1975
  18. Voice, Cement, Lime Gypsum, and Allied Workers International Union, September 1982
  19. Workers Under Communism, League for Industrial Democracy, 1983
  20. 732 News, Local 732, Amalgamated Transit Union, 1985-1987
  21. AFL-CIO News, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1968-1974
  22. American Teacher, American Federation of Teachers, June 1971
  23. The Atlanta Voice, August 5, 1972
  24. Boilermakers-Blacksmiths Reporter, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, January 1980
  25. Fair Measure, Southerners for Economic Justice, March 1981
  26. Federated Labor News, no publisher, July circa 1971
  27. Guild Forum, Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, Local 35, 1979
  28. The Guild Reporter, The Newspaper Guild, 1979-1981
  29. The Journal of Labor, Georgia State AFL-CIO, Friday, October 18, 1968
  30. The New Day, Alabama Council of Public Service Employees, Laborers' International Union of North America, 1974
  31. Outreach, Laundry, Dry Cleaning and Dye House Workers Union, Local No. 218, 1977-1979
  32. The Po' Folks Reporter, The Georgia Citizens' Coalition on Hunger, 1981-1983
  33. Southern Advocate, Equal Rights Congress, Southern Region, August 1981
  34. Southern Feminist, Southern Feminist, Inc., (Volume 1, Number 3) November-December 1984

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Proceedings Collection

  1. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, 31st Convention, 1962
  2. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, General Executive Board, 32nd Convention, 1965

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Photographic Collection

  1. One (1) Jimmy Carter
  2. Three (3) Jimmy Carter and E.T. Kehrer
  3. One (1) George Busbee, autographed
  4. Two (2) George Busbee
  5. Two (2) George Meany
  6. One (1) Snapshot, J.P. Stevens Boycott
  7. One (1) Hubert Humphrey, autographed to Atlanta labor
  8. One (1) Andrew Young and E.T. Kehrer, 1974
  9. Twenty (20) Snapshots, Selma-Montgomery March, March 3-7, 1985
  10. Twelve (12) Snapshots and negatives, Selma-Montgomery March, March 3-7, 1985
  11. Three (3) Tenn-Tom Job Train
  12. One (1) Snapshot, Atlanta Daily World Strike, 1969
  13. One (1) David Gracy, 1974
  14. One (1) E.T. Kehrer, 1969-1971
  15. One (1) Oversized, E.T. Kehrer group, undated
  16. Eighteen (18) colored images, Labor Awards Banquet, 1973
  17. Nineteen (19) colored images, Labor Awards Banquet, 1974
  18. Twenty-two (22) black and white images, Labor Awards Banquet, early 1970s
  19. Three (3) colored images, Labor Awards Banquet, early 1970s
  20. Three (3) Black and white images, Labor Awards Banquet, 1969
  21. Thirty-two (32) miscellaneous black and white images
  22. Four (4) miscellaneous color images

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection

  1. Pamphlets on the following subjects: Affirmative Action; American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations - Organizations Affiliated With; American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations - Civil Rights Department; American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations - Committee on Political Education (COPE); American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations - Executive Council Statements; American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations - International Affairs; American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations - Legislative Reports (Federal); Atlanta; United Automobile Workers of America; Black History; Black Workers; Busing; United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; Carter, Jimmy; Civil Rights; Collective Bargaining; Communications Workers of America; Democracy; Economic Issues; Education; Farm Workers; Georgia Department of Labor; Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union; Housing; Humphrey, Hubert; International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers; J.P. Stevens; Ku Klux Klan; Labor History; Labor - Management Relations; Labor Songs; Labor Studies; Laborers International Union; International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union; Latin America; International Association of Machinists (IAM); Mergers, Union and Corporate; Organizing; Pension Plans; Race Relations: Southern; A. Philip Randolph Institute; Religion and Labor; Right-to-Work; Shop Steward Manuals; The South; Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU); United Steelworkers of America (USWA); Taxes; Textile Industry; Unemployment; Union Directories; Union Handbooks; Union Membership; Voting; Wage and Price Controls; Wallace, George

Processing Information

Addendum to the inventory dated February 6, 1992. EAD created by Apex Data Services, June 2001. EAD revised by William Hardesty, 2005 and 2007.
Title
AFL-CIO Southern Area Civil Rights Department [L1989-17]:
Subtitle
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University Library
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
June 2001
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • June 2001: EAD created by Apex Data Services.
  • 2005, 2007: EAD revised by William Hardesty.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2880
404-413-2881 (Fax)